On May 8th 1945, at the end of the Second World War, combat ended in Europe with the Germans accepting unconditional surrender in Rheims, France.
The human death and destruction caused by World War II is almost beyond understanding. About 75 million people died in the war, including about 20 million military personnel and 55 million civilians.
Britain was poised to fall, and the British knew it. After 1939, the English were waiting for the Nazis to drop mustard gas and incendiary bombs prior to a massive invasion in which millions of people would be displaced or killed.
As it was, Britain could no longer feed itself. Population growth had long since outpaced the ability of British farms to feed it, and food imported from Europe and America supplemented the daily fare. With Europe at war and supply lines across the continent and across the Atlantic under siege, food was rationed and shortages of everything made it difficult to put a meal on the table.
And, of course, there were no ration coupons for dogs and cats. Newspapers reminded folks that animals would not be allowed in the air raid shelters.
Finally, in September of 1939, the message went out from the Home Office that the best way forward was to euthanize (kill) pets in preparation for the inevitable. In a single week, Britons were panicked into killing over 750,000 of their pets with a captive bolt gun or a shot to the brain. Employees of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals alone euthanized 300,000 animals.